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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-05 Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-1; Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-1; Matthew 26:14-27:66
There is an additional reading today as the first one is to be read before the procession. This reading commemorates the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. The Gospel reading for today narrates the whole Passion of Jesus, from the preparation of the Last Supper to his death and burial. One may ask, why do we read about the Last Supper through the burial of Jesus when we celebrate Palm Sunday, which is supposed to be a triumphant event in the life of Jesus. The simple answer to that is the Triumphant entry of Jesus prepares him for his suffering and death.
For Matthew, this triumphant entry of Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy that the much awaited King is entering Jerusalem and is establishing his kingdom. We see this in what the people were shouting Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven! This is partly taken from Psalm 118:24-26: We beseech thee, O Lord, save now! We beseech Thee, O Lord, make us now to prosper. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord; we bless you out of the house of the Lord (Jewish Publication Society). The word Hosanna literally means Save. The praise the people gave to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem is their acknowledgment of the fulfillment of this prophesy.
As we know, in a few days, Jesus will be killed. We see then the praise given by men is vain. It did not even last for a week! The First Reading from Isaiah tells us how the Triumphant entry is related to the suffering and death of Jesus. One phrase stands out in the First Reading from Isaiah: I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. This shows Jesus was determined to fulfill his destiny even if he was to face with abuse and insults despite him sustaining the weary. The First Reading ends with The Lord God helps me, there I have not been disgraced, therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. This confidence of Jesus in the face of physical suffering is the revelation of what he had been doing since before the creation as said in the Second Reading: though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on the cross.
The total emptying of Jesus to his Father, his total submission to the Father was the passion of his life! Jesus would not take the praise of humanity. The total submission of Jesus to the Father shows his trust in the Father, that whatever the Father has planned for him is infinitely better than what men has planned.
Which is why despite the darkness he felt on the cross, despite the betrayal of one of his closest friend and the denial of the leader of his Apostles, that made him cry the words of the Psalm today: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, he still obeyed the Father, because he knows, the Father will not allow him to be put to shame. He knows the Father will exalt him and give him the name above every other name, that at his name, every knee should bend, every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
It saddens me that as we celebrate the greatest feast of the year, we cannot come together and proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Yet the Psalm 118 tells us, this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Even in the midst of our sorrow, even in the darkness the Church and the world is going through, we are called to rejoice, because this is the only way we can see God’s glory.
God has a plan for us. He has a plan on how to end this epidemic. He is in fact, leading us through this epidemic, through the darkness in your life today. Psalm 23 tells us Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Whatever we are going through, God is with us. And when we seek the Lord, he will lead us through this darkness to his marvelous light. We fear no evil, because God is with us. He will not forsake you. Turn to Jesus and see how he emptied himself to the Father, trusting the Father has planned good things for him. Psalm 24 tells us: Lift your heads, grow higher ancient doors, Let him enter, the king of glory. Open your heart, let the King of Glory enter, to change your life, to set you free.
Lord, I come to you, in the midst of my fear and darkness. I embrace what you have planned for me. I empty myself to you and invite you to my life. Come, take control. Be my Lord as I submit to you. Let it be done to me, according to your word.

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